Sunday, January 12, 2014

Professors Just Don't Understand

A student once told me that he was transferring out of the university, to attend a school closer to his hometown. Part of it was that he was homesick, and the other part of it was a property line dispute between his father and a neighbor. I guess it had gotten so heated that the neighbor was constantly talking harassing the student's dad. It got to the point where the student at one point grabbed a baseball bat and used it to try to resolve the dispute by assaulting his neighbor. He didn't hurt the neighbor too badly, but it got the student in trouble with the law and he wasn't sure if his neighbor would then try to retaliate against his father. And thus the student wanted to go back home. The student told me the situation, and my response was in essence sometimes you have to do what you gotta do. The student was a bit taken aback with my response, because I wasn't disturbed by his using of a baseball bat to assault his neighbor. He told me that he had told another professor about his situation, and that professor was appalled, asking, "Why did you use a bat?" When the student recounted this to me, I was appalled that the professor would be appalled that the student resorted to the use of a baseball bat to protect his father, also known as his family. Maybe its just me, but I guess when someone is messing with your family, there is a point where you'll do whatever you can to protect them regardless about the consequences. I'm not sure if the professor ever actually stopped, listened and thought about these things. But I've found myself in similar situations.

I remember my final year in California I was making some decisions, and I was sitting by myself in a secluded area of campus, just ruminating about what lay ahead for me. As I sat there pondering, a recently hired Latino Studies professor was walking by, I had met him earlier that academic year, and figured I could talk to him, and let him know about some of the things I was considering. I told him my situation, and next thing you know he goes into a diatribe, about some shit. At the end of it he asked, "Was that helpful?" I just nodded my head stunned at how he could answer a question, not my question, but a question, and then feel happy with himself for what he believed was helpful advice. I was thinking, man, did this motherfucker even listen to a single word I said before he spilled his word vomit? Nonetheless, he walked off happily for doing his good deed of the day as a fellow brown person in academia, and I sat there perplexed, thinking what the fuck just happened?

I encountered this further in graduate school. A professor knew about my incident with the guards at the jail where my brother was being detained, which I posted about a couple of years ago. At a meeting with my professor at his office this incident came up, and the best he offered was, "They're probably going to make things hard for your brother." This was a serious fucken blow. I had thought about my actions and how the guards might use the incident to make things difficult for my brother, possibly even assaulting him, because they didn't get the chance to assault me. But the fact that the professor brought it up, instead of asking if there was anything he could do, just really irked the shit out of me. If he was really concerned for my brother, he would have offered concern, and possibly even calling the jail, to tell them to not fuck with his student and his family. He has a partner/girlfriend, that's a lawyer for MALDEF no less, and instead of saying "let me talk to her about your incident to see if there's anything she can do or at least recommend," I got that shitty response about my brother. I guess what really kills me about the situation with the professor is that there's all this shit about caring for the students, we're family and bunch of other nonsense. From what I understand, family will pick up a baseball bat and use it on your behalf. The professor didn't do that, he just went on an anti-cop rant. You'd think that would make me feel better, but it didn't, it just reminded me that professors really just don't listen. I have to sit and think, oh please spare me the horseshit you're shoveling at me right now, and I smile and nod, because smiling and nodding is all they really need to see.

On Facebook, something was posted about students that were harassed by cops in New York, and a question posed by someone, was "what do we as educators do about this?" Someone else, an educator posted, "Nothing. Our jobs as educators is to teach, what happens to students outside of school grounds is not our responsibility. Students and their families should take responsibility and file a complaint." Seeing his comment, all I could think is education is fucked with people like him as educators. Not that he didn't have a point, but if we're going to talk about community, it is made up of many different components, and these things ripple, effecting different facets of community, not just the neighborhood, but the many different systems that can be considered communities, such as the community that is the immediate family, friends, the workplace, etc. But educators teach, and thats it.
I guess professors are really here just to teach and really not give a shit about us. That's the way I've had to think about it, because professors have disappointed me. Well, the ones that I've worked with who talk about giving a fuck, but at the end of the day are really ignorant to offer anything other than their anti-authoritarian rants. Now here I am working toward being in their position. Does that mean I'm just going to hear but not listen? Will I go on rants about random shit not having to do with anything, other than me liking the sound of my own voice? Its a dreadful fucking thought, becoming one of those people, always hearing, but not listening, while they give themselves intellectual thumb-fuckings. Academia, love it or leave it.


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